Ear Worms

Okay, they’re not really worms – just the name for that song that goes around and around and around in your head – at least until you get another song to take its place.

Six years old, I walked a quarter mile down the country road to school. Playing in my head, I heard, “London Bridge is falling down, falling down, falling down . . .”

Grade school summers found me building a playhouse under a spreading apple tree. Amusement came with the lyrics, “It rained all night the day I left. The weather it was dry. . . Susannah, don’t you cry.”

In junior high, I watched recess athletes from the sidelines wishing I was home with a book. Passing time in my head, I heard, “Oh, do you remember Sweet Betsy from Pike who crossed the wide prairie with her brother Ike . . . ” (Turns out it was her lover Ike, but it had been cleaned up for junior high consumption.)

A high school nerd, I eschewed Elvis and his hound dog, preferring the Glee Club number Mrs. Doxey taught. The bittersweet mood playing in my head matched my own, “In the still of the night, as I gaze from my window. . . ”

A ninety-mile-a-day commute as I finished my last two years of college at Ole Miss brought “On the road again, just can’t wait to get on the road again . . . ” Technically, I wasn’t that excited, but what do you do when song lyrics accompany the hum of tires?

In adulthood, the ear worms have usually lingered after choir practice, following the seasons of Christmas, Lent, Easter, and ordinary time. “Lord, listen to your children praying, Lord send your spirit . . . ”

Is this phenomenon heredity or contagious? I watch my five-year-old grandson color his picture at the counter and carefully write B-E-N-J-A-M-I-N on the bottom, humming all the while. “There was a farmer had a dog and Bingo . . . ”

I think I’ll wait until he’s a bit older to tell him he has an ear worm.